EDITORIAL: Dining services should combine redundant dining payment options

Editorial Cartoon 9.28

Herald Staff

THE ISSUE: WKU offers more dining payment options than students know what to do with. Though convenient in some aspects, the differences in the plans can be confusing to understand.

OUR STANCE: Campus dining services should combine Meal Plan, Dining and Big Red dollars to avoid misunderstanding.

Food is an important part of every college student’s daily routine. And when there’s a myriad of choices, as offered in the various campus eateries, food becomes an easy temptation to give into.

But when there are as many options to pay for the food as there is food itself, things can get complicated.

WKU Dining Services offers several ways for students to purchase meals, including meal plans, Meal Plan Dollars, Dining Dollars and Big Red Dollars. Each option is set as a pre-paid allotment with a declining balance through your WKU ID card.

And each option has a different set of guidelines for use.

The Herald doesn’t deny that there are good things about having options. We can’t argue with the discounts, and each choice requires us to plan a food budget for the semester. But the number of options with so few differences seem unnecessary.

Meal Plan Dollars can only be purchased as part of a meal plan. Students can’t purchase more of them later. While Dining Dollars and Big Red Dollars roll over year to year, Meal Plan Dollars expire at the end of the spring semester.

Dining and Meal Plan Dollars save students 11 percent at campus restaurants and convenience stores. But Big Red Dollars – which can be used off campus at places including Wendy’s, Mariah’s and Waffle House – don’t provide a discount.

Both Dining and Big Red Dollars can be purchased at any time during the year and don’t expire.

Lastly, the Big Red Dollars are a great way to keep WKU connected to the greater Bowling Green area, as many city restaurants accept them. But other than a community tie, Big Red Dollars are redundant to having your own cash or credit card.

Students shouldn’t have to check the dollars comparison chart each time they make a purchase. If they were given the flexibility to create their own purchase plans, they wouldn’t have so much to remember.

If such confusing restrictions are already in place, WKU Dining Services might as well make a meal plan specifically for Fresh Food Company that can only be used between midnight and 5 a.m. Or they could create GaryBucks for fifth-year seniors that are only good on Wednesdays if they’re a Kentucky resident.

A dollar by any name would spend as sweetly. So WKU can do away with the fancy arrangements and simply combine all three payment options to maximize our savings and minimize our mix-ups.

This editorial represents the majority opinion of the Herald’s 10-member editorial board.